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Risks Of Dog Shock Collars

Shock collars (including Garmin collars) are a popular dog training tool in the United States. In many training facilities, owners are required to purchase a shock collar as part of the training package. Unfortunately, these trainers are relying on painful and outdated training techniques that use pain as a training tool, and can ultimately damage a dog beyond repair.

Shock collars are sometimes called “remote collars” or “electronic collars.” These names are deceptive, as they mask the true functionality of the collar. The collar contains an electronic transmitter that rests next to the dog’s neck. The owner carries a remote control device, which is used to trigger the electronic signal and to manage the level of the shock administered. Some shock collars have a lowest setting which only vibrates. But, to be effective, all shock collars must have the capability of sending a signal strong enough to cause enough pain to interrupt the dog’s behavior and divert his attention.

The most recent and progressive research on dog behavior condemns the use of shock collars as a training method. In 2007, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) issued a position statement on the use of punishment as a training method. The AVSAB documented the risks involved with using a punishment based training method, such as a shock collar. In order for punishment to be effective, it must be painful or cause fear. Otherwise, the dog will ignore the punishment or simply learn to tolerate it. According to the AVSAB, “Even when punishment seems mild, in order to be effective it often must elicit a strong fear response, and this fear response can generalize to things that sound or look similar to the punishment.” In other words, the punishment – the shock, in this case – must cause the dog to be fearful of not only the collar, but the situations in which the collar is used. So, a dog may soon learn to be not only be afraid of the shock, but of other dogs, people or objects that are in the environment when the shock is used.

Shock collars can sometimes cause aggressive behavior to develop. Some dogs respond to pain by becoming submissive. Yet, other dogs may respond to the pain by acting aggressively. As the AVSAB points out, dogs that learn to mask their anxiety out of fear of a shock may “act with heightened aggression and with fewer warning signs. In other words, it may now attack more aggressively or with no warning, making it much more dangerous.” In these situations, the use of the shock collar has exactly the opposite of the intended effect. A once non-aggressive dog may begin to display aggressive behaviors, often without warning.

Several national and international organizations have condemned the use of shock collars as a training tool. One outspoken critic, Dr. Karen Overall, a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior (ACVB) , certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and professor at the University Pennsylvania School of Medicine, states” Let me make my opinion perfectly clear: Shock is not training – in the vast majority of cases it meets the criteria for abuse.” The Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of Canada, the World’s Society for the Protection of Animals, Animal Defenders International, PETA, BestFriends General Dog Toy Store and Best Friends Animal Society all publically oppose the use of shock collars as a training device.

Trainers who use shock collars often promise quick and effective behavior changes. In the short-term, this may be true. As the dog is shocked, he quickly becomes afraid to do anything, so it appears that the bad behavior has subsided. In reality, the dog often begins to stop acting like a dog at all, and all behaviors become attempts to avoid the pain. Long-term use of a shock collar almost always lead to either a broken and fearful dog or an aggressive dog, both of which result in often irreparable damage to the bond between a dog and his owner.

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Selecting Tough Toys

Selecting Tough Toys

“Why can’t they make a dog toy that my dog cannot destroy?” The fact is that your dog’s jaws are made to rip flesh and crush bones…the materials that can stand up to that kind of pressure are not much fun for dogs. Fabric, plush, rubber, and vinyl are not deterrents to a dog’ ripping and chewing instinct. If your dog just has to know what is inside of its toys, there is no way you are going to stop them. However, I do have some suggestions on how to select toys that might last longer.

First, save all of the tags for the dog toys that you purchase. Throw away the tags for toys that do not last and keep the ones that do. Some textures, fabrics, sounds, sizes, or manufactures might last longer for your dog. Once you find these clues, you usually can find other toys that they love to play with and will last. Also, really observe how your dog plays with its toys. What is driving your dog to tear its toy apart — the toy’s sound, texture, or the just the challenge of ripping its toy apart?

If your dog is a Sound Driven toy destroyer, discover what sounds drive them. Once you discover the sound that drives your dog crazy you can avoid toys with that sound. Some dogs are squeaker driven dogs, especially Terriers. They are squeaker driven because a squeaker sounds just like an injured rodent — especially rabbits. Squeaker driven dogs are easy because there are so many other sounds makers for dog toys — such as grunters, cawers, rattle, crinkle, giggle stick, or voice-chip talking toys.

If your dog is a Chew Driven toy destroyer — they will chew and chew until they get their toy apart. For these dogs, I recommend that you find toys that do not have hard edges. In addition, toys that have small pieces attached are just too enticing. I would look for toys that are just two pieces of fabric (a top and a bottom) or for plush balls. It is hard to find a place to grab and hold on to chew with a ball. You might also want to try different textures with these dedicated chewers. They may love to chew short plush, but will play with a long plush toy — sometimes Berber, fake lamb’s wool, dog toys hold up better for these dogs. If your Chew Driven dog is food motivated try treat dispensers. Some of these dispensers can deliver some or all of your dog’s kibble, for mealtime exercise and entertainment. Treat dispenser come all sizes and challenge levels. Treat Dispensing toys are designed to keep dog busy for a long period. An occupied dog is less likely to think about destroying the toy.

Rippers differ from Chew Driven Dogs because they just love to rip. In addition to the suggestions for Chew Driven Dogs, look for dog toys that are meant to be taken apart. Plush Dog Puzzle Toys, such as Hide-a-Toys, IQubes, Pull-a-Parts, Egg Babies, and Intellibones have removable pieces. Then you re-assemble them for your dog to rip them apart again. The Hide-a-Toys, such as the Hide-a-Squirrel, Hide-a Bee, and the Hide-a-Bird, have replacement parts available so that you do not have to purchase a completely new toy. These toys are also provide mental stimulation for your problem solving dog.

Stuffing-aholic dogs a can make your toy hunt difficult. Some manufactures, like Go Dog and Dr. Noy’s Toys make dog toys that have no or little stuffing — they are a quick answer for some dogs. Some of our Stuffing-aholic friends do not de-stuff toys stuffed with cotton, like Simply Fido and Woof Weartoys. Betsy and Norman have never tried to take the stuffing out of their cotton toys. Are you handy with a needle and thread? You can de-stuff a toy before you give it to your dog — that way you will not have to pick up all of the fluff. Please never let your dog eat a toy’s stuffing!

Tug Driven toy destroyers make every toy, no matter what the size, into a tug toy. Toys, especially designed for tugging, like bungee toys worked well for these dogs. We carry bungee toys that have nylon-reinforced sides — the nylon keeps your dog from tugging the toy so far that the seams pop. West Paw Design also makes a Stretch Snake toy that seams sewn on the bias so that the seams naturally stretch — this snake comes in three sizes. Betsy and Norman played with their West Paw snake for years before the head finally came off — the seam has never popped. Rope Toys are also a great tough toys for tuggers — we have ropes in all sizes, up to 1.5 inches in diameter.

It is possible that you will not find a toy that you can safely let you dog play with on their own. For these dogs, we recommend that you work with your veterinarian and find edible chew treats that you can give them to keep them from being bored. You can also introduce toy interactive toys where you control the game and how the dog is using the toy. Interactive toys are great because when your dog starts to be destructive you can just remove it and stop playing. I love playing Ball on a Stick with Betsy. This simple toy is a stick with a ball on a rope. The rope slides through the stick for an extra challenge. I just stand in the middle and swing the ball around until she catches it. Betsy has a release command; however, we need to work on having the release last more than a split second. I just wait until she is finished showing off that she caught the ball and then I start swinging it again. This toy/game wears her out. If she ever decides to try to destroy the ball, I will simply remove the toy and get another toy or stop playing.

Another great game to teach a Dog-Toy-Destroying dog is fetch. What your dog will not give up the toy? I have a solution. Just throw another toy and pick up the first one as they drop it while they are running after the second. In this version of fetch, you get your exercise too! You can use balls, plush toys, rubber toys, or better yet a variety of toys so that your dog is busy running around and picking them up. The idea is to get your dog moving and its mind busy. When you are looking for the right toy for your dog, I recommend that you read reviews that others have written about toys. Check out breed websites and see what other parents are buying for their dogs. Of course, you can always ask me what I would recommend — just let me know what toys have worked for your dog in the past and we will make suggestions.

PLAY SAFE! Never let your dog consume (eat, swallow) any part of a toy! However, if your dog does not eat its toys let them play with the unstuffed carcass. Many of these shells of former toys are Betsy and Norman’s favorites. If your dog consumes toys — take them away and do not give them toys; instead as your veterinarian, what they suggest you offer them instead.

Remember dog toys are an important part of a dog’s environment. They urge them to get off the couch and be active. They enrich your dog’s world and are great for developing a bond between your dog and you.

…and make sure you see our selection of toys that we think are tough!

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Moving With Your Dog

Last year mom and dad said that they were selling the farm and that we were moving to Arkansas. Well, we did not do either! We did rent the farm to Princess, The Poodle, and her family. Then we moved to Chino Valley Arizona! Here are some of my tips on moving with a dog…now that I am an expert. When mom and dad put the farm up for sale, some of my favorite broken dirty toys disappeared. If that was not bad enough mom was not happy when I dug under the trees, the vacuum was always out, and strange people came to see us. These strange people only seem to want to talk to mom and dad — they did not come to play with Norman and me! I even had to get a bath because mom said I was shedding too much!

They said that we needed to sell the farm because we need more room for toys. Our new farm does have more room for toys. But, more importantly it has more room for Norman and me to run — TWO whole acres!

Back to moving…if you have to move, make sure you plan for your dog’s move too! It is a good idea to have some of your dog’s old toys at the new house, and some fun new entertaining toys too. Mom packed up our favorite “gorilla girl” (the one we love to hump, especially when company comes), it was waiting for us at our new house. We found lots of our old favorite toys at our new house — we spent hours sniffing and play with these new-old toys. Mom made sure that we had on new tags, BEFORE we left our old house. The new tags had her cell phone number and our new address, & phone number. She also made sure our Vet had our new address and phone number, and she up dated our microchip records. If we had moved a long way (our new house is just two hours from our old house) mom would have mapped our journey so that we could stop at dog parks, and dog friendly hotels.

When moving day came, we had to stay in the garden for a while while big trucks and people came to our house. Then dad packed us up…including Maude, the Office Cat, and took us to our new house. This way the trucks and all of those people did, hurt us or let us out — and mom knew that we were safe at our new house! I just wished that Maude the NOISY cat had spent the day with mom and drove up with her. Boy can Made talk!

I almost forgot the most important thing! If you move, make sure you send us your new address!

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5 Reasons Why Do We Call Dogs Our Best Friend

Dogs are amazing. They are cute, they are smart, they wish you all the best so they are truly human’s best friend. Below, we listed 5 main reason, why dog is our best friend.